Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century Asian Cities

Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century Asian Cities

Click on the links below to access scans of some of the late 19th- and early 20th-century sheet maps of Asian (or partly Asian) cities that are held at the University of Chicago Library's Map Collection.

Several of the cities portrayed in these maps are now among the world's largest, but they were all much smaller places during the years when the maps were compiled. The largest--late Qing Beijing and early 20th-century Calcutta--each had more than a million inhabitants, but they were nothing like the sprawling "megacities" of today. The cities couldn't sprawl, since most of their inhabitants got about largely on foot. Surface rail transit was initiated in many of the cities before the end of the 19th century, but it was nowhere as extensive as in major Western cities of the same period. As a result, population density in the largest of these cities was extraordinarily high.

The cities can be classed roughly into several types. Some were still quite traditional. Their morphology followed either the East Asian tradition of religiously sanctioned cardinality (example: Beijing) or the Middle Eastern one in which hardly anything but mosque alignment was centrally planned (example: Aleppo). The geography of other cities (like Bombay and Jakarta) was essentially that of the "colonial city," whose physical structure could be said to have been determined by the (sometimes contradictory) goals of efficiency, security, ethnic separation, and the comfort of the ruling class. Still other cities--Delhi and Hanoi--were older places of a traditional type with important colonial additions. No claim can be made that there ever was such a thing as an "Asian city."

The Website provides access only to a small proportion of the maps from this period that are held at the Map Collection.

The maps were scanned at 400 dpi using NextImage software and were saved as tiff files

You can access these files in two different ways:

[1] Click on the thumbnails below to see the files in a program called Zoomify. Zoomify breaks the original tiff files into tiny jpegs, so you can zoom in and out and move around quickly and efficiently. Zoomify requires Flash and so won't work on many mobile phones.

[2] You can also see the files through Luna. Luna, like Zoomify, allows you to zoom in and out and to move around. It also allows download of jpeg versions of the files (click "Export"). To access the Luna files, click on the "Click here for Luna version" button.

The original tiff files are also available. E-mail from the "Questions about this page?" button below.

Downloaded files are freely available for personal or scholarly use. If you use the images in a publication, we expect that you will mention that the original maps--and the files--are from the University of Chicago Library's Map Collection.

Several people contributed to the construction of this Web site. Joost Dupon of the Map Collection did most of the scanning and most of the Photoshop manipulation as well. Shannon Thompson of the Map Collection did the majority of the necessary editing of cataloging records. The Digital Media Laboratory let Map Collection staff use its Contex scanner; Dale Mertes of the Digital Media Laboratory was particularly helpful. Katharina Loew of the Map Collection did some last-minute repair on the Manila map, and Christine McCarthy of the Library's Preservation Department cleaned the Hanoi map. More recently, Ann Lindsey, of the Library's Conservation Department, did an enormous amount of hands-on work with the Fuzhou map, and Michael Kenny photographed this fragile map with a digital camera. John Jung, Kathleen Degnan, and Peggy Wilkins of the Digital Library Development Center helped with the programming. Several people made useful comments on earlier drafts of these paragraphs. Bobby Butler of the Map Collection did some light file editing in early 2015 and then edited the Map Collection pages to point to the Luna pages. And Bridget Madden of the University of Chicago's Visual Resources Center and Charles Blair of the Library's Digital Library Development Center converted the files to Luna in 2015.

The links below are in alphabetical order by the forms of the cities' names used in the subject headings.


ImageTitle InformationSubject HeadingsDescription
Alep. Ed. provisoire. Aleppo (Syria)--Maps. Scale ca. 1:5,000. [Paris] : Service géographique de l'Armée, 1919. 1 map ; 90 x 70 cm., on sheet 97 x 74 cm.
Plan of Bangkok and district. Bangkok (Thailand)--Maps. Scale [ca. 1:25,000]. [Bangkok] : Printed by the Royal Survey Dept., [1922?]. 1 map : col. ; 95 x 71 cm.
Plan de Pékin / dressé, héliogravé, et publié par le Service géographique de l'Armée. Beijing (China)--Maps. Scale 1:15,000. [Paris] : Service géographique de l'Armée, [1900?]. 1 map : col. ; 71 x 77 cm.

Map of the island of Bombay. Bombay (India)--Maps. Scale 1:4,800. Calcutta : Survey of India Offices, 1919. 1 map on 10 sheets : col. ; sheets 111 x 77 cm.
City of Calcutta : census map. Calcutta (India)--Population--Maps.
City planning--India--Calcutta--Maps.
Land use--India--Calcutta--Maps.
Calcutta (India)--Maps.
Scale [ca. 1:21,120]. [India? : s.n., 1913?]. 1 map : col. ; 74 x 90 cm.
Calcutta and surrounding country. 3rd ed. Calcutta Region (India)--Maps.
Calcutta (India)--Maps.
Scale 1:63,360. Calcutta : Survey of India Offices, 1916. 1 map : col. ; 129 x 71 cm., on sheet 152 x 100 cm.

Delhi and vicinity. 4th ed. Delhi Region (India)--Maps.
Delhi (India)--Maps.
Scale 1:15,840. Calcutta : Survey of India Offices, 1922. 1 map on 4 sheets : col. ; 134 x 156 cm., sheets 76 x 101 cm.
福建省會城市全圖 [Fujian sheng hui cheng shi quan tu] / 胡東海謹繪 [Hu Donghai hui]. Fuzhou Shi (Fujian Sheng, China)--Maps. Scale [ca. 1:2,750]. [Fuzhou? : s.n., between 1860 and 1911?]. 1 map ; 105 x 110 cm. Woodblock print.
Plans de quelques villes du Tonkin et de leurs environs. Hanoi (Vietnam)--Maps.
Tuyên Quang (Vietnam)--Maps.
Haiphong (Vietnam)--Maps.
Bác Ninh (Vietnam)--Maps.
Scale 1:20,000. Scale 1:10,000. [S.l. : s.n., 1885?]. 4 maps on 1 sheet : col. ; sheet 83 x 43 cm.
Map of Hong-Kong and of the territory leased to Great Britain under the convention between Great Britain and China signed at Peking on the 9th of June 1898. Hong Kong (China)--Maps. Scale 1:84,480. [London] : War Office, [1909]. 1 map : col. ; 56 x 82 cm., on sheet 71 x 85 cm.
Plan von Constantinopel mit den Vorstädten, dem Hafen, und einem Theile des Bosporus / aufgenommen und gezeichnet von C. Stolpe nach den zeitherigen Veränderungen berichtigt bis zum Jahre 1882 = Plan de Constantinople avec ses faubourgs, le port et une partie du Bosphore / levé et dessiné par C. Stolpe, verifié d'après les changements les plus récents jusqu'en 1882. Istanbul (Turkey)--Maps.
Scale 1:15,000. Constantinopel : Verlag von Lorentz & Keil, 1882. 1 map : col. ; 69 x 52 cm., on sheet 72 x 59 cm. Residential areas colored to show religious affiliation of inhabitants.
Batavia en omstreken. Jakarta (Indonesia)--Maps. Scale 1:50,000. Batavia : Topographische Inrichting, 1914. 1 map : col. ; 58 x 50 cm.
Plan of Jerusalem : reduced by permission from the Ordnance Survey plan, 1/2,500 scale / made by Sir Charles W. Wilson to illustrate recent discoveries. Jerusalem--Maps.
Scale 1:3,670. [London] : Palestine Exploration Fund, 1900. 1 map : col. ; 70 x 49 cm., on sheet 79 x 58 cm. Shows contemporary city in black, historical features in red.

Index map, city of Manila / prepared in office of the Adjutant General Hdqrs., Division of the Philippines, Military Information Division, under the direction of A.C. Macomb. Rev. in Military Information Division, General Staff, Manila, P.I., June 1904. Manila (Philippines)--Maps.
Manila Metropolitan Area (Philippines)--Maps.
Scale 1:5,000. [Manila?] : Miliitary Information Division, [1904]. 1 map on 4 sheets : col. ; 182 x 140 cm., sheets 101 x 80 cm.
Town guide map of Peshawar city. Peshawar (Pakistan)--Maps. Scale 1:5,280. Calcutta : Survey of India Offices, 1921. 1 map : col. ; 53 x 70 cm.
Keijyo (Seoul). Seoul (Korea)--Maps. Scale [ca. 1:21,500]. [Korea? : s.n., 1920?]. 1 map : col. ; 49 x 36 cm., on sheet 54 x 40 cm.
Soerabaja en omstreken. Surabaya (Indonesia)--Maps. Scale 1:50,000. Batavia : Topographische Inrichting, 1914. 1 map : col. ; 59 x 51 cm.
Karte der Umgegend von Teheran / von A.F. Stahl. Teheran Region (Iran)--Maps.
Teheran (Iran)--Maps.
Scale 1:210,000. Gotha : Justus Perthes, 1900. 1 map : col. ; 20 x 66 cm.
Tientsin and surrounding country : compiled from original surveys. Tianjin (China)--Maps.
Tianjin Region (China)--Maps.
Scale 1:15,840. [S.l.] : Intelligence Branch, North China Command, 1903. 1 map on 2 sheets : col. ; 74 x 98 cm., sheets 75 x 51 cm.

Town guide map of Benares city. Varanasi (India)--Maps. Scale 1:5,280. Calcutta : Survey of India Offices, [1919]. 1 map on 2 sheets : col. ; sheets 61 x 79 cm. and 70 x 35 cm.
Map Collection homepage